By CityTownInfo.com Staff
April 3, 2009
Some universities will be counting veterans' military training courses as college credit, while student groups in other schools are pushing for similar policies.
New Jersey's The Star-Ledger reports that the university faculty at Rutgers University in Camden voted to apply as part of the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Consortium, a group that helps colleges give academic credit for military experience.
"It is a major, major victory," said Bryan Adams, a sophomore who is president of Veterans for Education, which pushed for the policy change. "It isn't just a temporary thing. It is a permanent thing for all those guys behind us when they get out of the military."
The move comes as university officials are gearing up for an increase in veteran enrollment. In June, 2,900 members of the New Jersey National Guard will be returning from Iraq. Moreover, a new GI Bill slated to take effect this summer will pay for veterans' in-state college tuition at state institutions while offering a stipend for living expenses.
"I was concerned with those men and women coming home," said William Brown, co-founder of Veterans for Education, who was quoted in the Burlington County Times. "The sooner they get a degree, the better their standard of living, the higher their tax bracket, the more they're going to invest, the more they're going to spend. It's a win-win situation. I'm just ecstatic."
Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick said that Rutgers is developing a Web site for veterans, and has already established a mentor program which matches current student veterans with alumni veterans.
Students at the University of Missouri-Columbia are pushing school officials to adopt the same policy. Daniel Sewall, president of the Mizzou Student Veteran's Association, explained that refusal to grant college credit to veterans requires them to retake many courses for which they already have extensive military training.
"It's important to have a veteran friendly campus to ensure that the returning veteran gets the right first step in their academic career," Sewell told The Maneater, MU's student publication.
MSVA Vice President Billy Froeschner pointed out that the university would ultimately benefit from being veteran-friendly: Since veterans will be aided by the GI Bill, tuition would not be a problem.
In a related story, veteran students at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor this week pushed for the state to grant in-state tuition rates to all veterans attending public universities, regardless of their place of residency. The Michigan Daily reports that the students argued that by passing the proposal, the state would benefit from more federal money allocated in the GI Bill.
"By encouraging all veterans to pursue their educations in our state, we will ensure the training necessary for the workforce of Michigan's future, all on the federal government's dime," wrote Carl Ireland, a senior who is the legislative director of SVA's Michigan chapter.